Choosing the right diet is a vital part of managing diabetes. A healthy diet will help you to control your blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. It will also help to improve
your energy levels, digestion, and immunity. The good news is that eating well when you have diabetes doesn’t have to be boring or hard work and you don’t have to miss out on the foods you enjoy. There are five areas of your diet where you can boost your health and well-being by making a few changes.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diabetes eating plan. They provide vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which, among other benefits, will help to keep your heart and eyes healthy; potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure; and dietary fiber, which encourages the digestive system to function smoothly.
Choose the right carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which causes the level of blood glucose to rise. The level to which it rises and the length of time it remains high depend on the type and amount of carbohydrates that you eat. Certain carbohydrates are digested more slowly than others, keeping blood glucose levels even and sustaining energy levels. Understanding the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels is the key to living with diabetes.
Swap bad fats for good
Reduce your intake of ‘bad fats’—saturated fats and trans fats—which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Eat more “good fats”, such as unsaturated oils, which have a protective effect.
Replace salt with good flavorings
A diet high in sodium is believed to be a major factor in the development of high blood pressure—something that people with diabetes are at greater risk of. Experts suggest that reducing our intake of sodium to no more than 2.4g a day can reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack by a quarter. Instead of relying on salt to make food tasty, use other ways to add flavor.
Lower your sugar intake
Sugar provides what nutritionists call ’empty calories’—calories that provide nothing in the way of protein, fiber, vitamins, or minerals and so offer no health benefit. Eating large amounts of sugar will cause your blood glucose levels to rise and in the longer term can lead to weight gain. You do not need to avoid sugar completely, but cut back on it as much as possible and try other ways to sweeten food.